NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
By ALMA J. BUELVA
CAT cafés in Metro Manila are on expansion mode, thanks to the overwhelming positive customer acceptance they've been enjoying since opening shops last year.
Miao Cat Cafe, Bengal Brew and Velvet Friends Cat Cafe are all engaged in business expansion to cater to more animal lovers.
Miao Cat Café, the first to open in 2015 along Congressional Road in Quezon City, is almost ready to open its branch in 12th Avenue in Caloocan.
Loida Ramos Benson, one of the sisters who own Miao Cat Café, gave a sneak peek on Facebook of what she calls “mini Miao Cat Café” by showing two photos of the new branch. She added, however, that work on the place is not yet finished and their cats are moving in by June.
Bengal Brew, the world's first cat cafe dedicated to exotic Bengal cats, is also building another animal-inspired café next to its 120-square meter “jungle paradise” in Cubao, Quezon City.
Don Michael Perez who owns Bengal Brew is excited to open Wolf & Bear, a dog café that will take customers to another side of the world.
“If Bengal Brew is designed like the tropics, Wolf & Bear will be like the Arctic, and will showcase mostly Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. It's going to be right next to the current location of Bengal Brew—like an extension where customers have the option of going to the cat cafe, the dog cafe, or both. ” Perez told MetroPets.
Wolf & Bear is still under construction and may open next month.
Meanwhile, Velvet Friends Cat Cafe in Blue Bay Walk in Pasay City, known for its wide selection of beautiful purebred cats, is also currently expanding its operations by turning itself into a full pet cafe. To be known as Velvet Friends Pet Cafe, possibly by July this year, it will feature not just a cat cafe but also a place for dogs and even rabbits.
Chito Aclon, who owns the existing French chic-inspired cat café, said Papillons, Japanese Chins, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Keeshond and other dog breeds not commonly seen in the country can romp around at the pet cafe's indoor English garden. The dining area will have an outdoor Parisian café ambiance, he added.
Unfortunately, one cat cafe has folded. Uchi No Neko in Katipunan Ave., Quezon City which catered to rescued Puspin cats sadly went out of business after only several months of operations.
THE Animal Health and Welfare Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry is encouraging present and future operators of cat cafes to secure the necessary BAI permit to operate.
In an interview with MetroPets, Armelo Mauro of the Animal Health and Welfare Division said only two cat cafes – Velvet Friends Cat Cafe in Pasay City and Miao Cat Cafe on Congressional Avenue in Quezon City – have been issued permits after meeting all the requirements set for an animal facility.
Mauro said they are now processing the permits of Cat Cafe Manila and Uchi No Neko Cat Cafe. There are eight cat cafes in the country today, with seven located in Metro Manila and only one in Cebu.
Aside from cat cafes, the BAI also requires dog cafes, catteries and kennels to undergo BAI inspection prior to the issuance of a permit. Mauro said they have also issued permits to Barkin' Blends Dog Cafe and Bonnevie Cattery.
To get a BAI permit, an animal facility must comply with the country's animal welfare regulations, must submit proper business papers, must show location plan and specifications to prove that it is conducive to animals and must appoint a licensed veterinarian (contracted or on call) who would regularly check on the animals' health, among others.
Mauro said they also particularly want to ensure that the cats are not getting exhausted due to constant exposure to cafe visitors.
“They must provide for the animals' needs and make sure the cats are not stressed especially by being constantly carried by different people,” he added.
Mauro said they are not strict with current cat cafe operators that have opened shops without permits, but they strongly encourage them to register with the Animal Health and Welfare Division and be inspected and evaluated to see if they meet the government's standard.
If after one year an animal facility fails to comply, Mauro said they could be stricter the next time the operator needs to ship animals.
The BAI charges cat cafes P300 for registration, renewable annually. He said they plan to revisit Velvet Friends Cat Cafe because it wasn't completely constructed the first time they visited.
“We will be more strict during renewal of permits,” Mauro warned. “We want cat cafes to make sure that they meet all our recommendations during our first inspection or we won't renew their registration.”
For cat cafes and other animal facility outside Metro Manila, Mauro said the BAI has regional offices and focal persons to conduct the inspection.
The eight cat cafes in the country are:
* Cat Cafe Philippines in Cebu City
* Cat Cafe Manila in Maginhawa, Quezon City
* Miao Cat Cafe in Congressional Ave., Quezon City
* Gilmore Cat Cafe in Gilmore, Quezon City
* Velvet Friends Cat Cafe in Pasay City
* Le Cat Cafe in Paranaque City
* Bengal Cat Cafe in Cubao, Quezon City
* Uchi No Neko in Katipunan, Quezon City
* Mookkie, the smart pet feeder with AI technology